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Mount Nebo, the Baptism site and the Christian heritage

  the roots of Christianity began with Jesus himself in the region, the Baptism site where Jesus was baptized according to the Christian history is located on the eastern bank of Jordan river, Romans had direct rule over Palestine since the 1st half of the 1st century A.D, few decades later Christians were persecuted, a lot of them moved to Jordan (which was under the Nabatean rule) looking for a safe place, 325 A.D Constantine became the emperor of the Byzantines and Christianity flourished since that time in Jordan, more than 150 churches were excavated from the Byzantine era, a lot of those ancient churches can be seen in Madaba and Umm Erasas, the famous little hill “mount Nebo” was approved by the Vatican as a Christian pilgrimage site is 15 minutes driving from Madaba city center

 

Mount Nebo “in Arabic: Jabal Nebo”

It is 800 meters above sea level, mentioned in the bible as the place where Moses was given the view of the promised land, the panoramic view from the summit provides a panorama of Jericho city in the west bank, the northern side of Dead Sea, and the Southern side of Jordan River, Jerusalem minarets might be seen during a very clear weather day

As per the final chapter of the Deuteronomy Moses went to Mount Nebo to view the land of Israel which he never entered and died there, according to the Deuteronomy story he was buried in some unknown valley in Moab land, on March 20, 2000 the Pope john Paul II visited the mountain during his visit to Jordan and planted an olive tree beside the Byzantine chapel as a symbol of peace, Pope Benedict XVI also visited the site and made a speech there

On the highest point of the mount a Byzantine Monastery was excavated, the church dates to the 4th century A.D, the church is rich with mosaic portraits

 

Bay of Bethany, or the Baptism Site “in Arabic Almagtas”

According to the Christian heritage, the Baptism site has been a pilgrimage site since the time of John the Baptist, when he died some of his students remained there, which was the birth place of Christianity

The baptism site was a military zone with plenty of mines, when the Jordanian – Israeli peace treaty was achieved in 1994 there was a chance to renovate the site, the Bedouin tribes living in that area provided initial guidance to the first archaeological teams to excavate that area, pottery, mosaic, caves, and marble were found and several churches were excavated too

Many old Christian records talked about that spot as the baptism site; the bible identifies that place as the Bethany beyond Jordan where John stated his ministry, some old pilgrims also left some records talking about that spot as the baptism site, such as Theodosius 530 A.D wrote: “5 miles north of the Dead sea …In the place where the Lord was baptized there is a single pillar and on the pillar an iron cross has been fastened, there too is the church of St. John the Baptist, which the Emperor Anastasia’s built: this church is very lofty, being built above large chambers, on account of the Jordan when it overflows.” Many other historical records talked about that site as the Baptism site too

 

Churches in Jordan, and Madaba Map Church “Saint George Church”

More than 200 ancient churches were found all over Jordan, nearly 75% of them dates back to the Byzantine era where the rest of them were added during the Islamic era, the eldest church was erected in Aqaba at south of Jordan

Madaba Map Church or Saint George Church is one of the Byzantine Basilicas in Jordan which dates back to the 6th century, located in Madaba city center now a day, it was renovated and being used as a church by the locals. The church was discovered in the end of the 19th century, a huge mosaic portrait representing a map of the middle east was found within the ruins, the mosaic map consist of more than 2 million cubic pieces stones, the map shows the main highlights of the region and it was centered on Jerusalem, the church has historical significance due to the existence of the mosaic map

13 other churches were excavated in Madaba and several others were also found in Um-Erasas to the east of Madaba